Science and Spirituality - Heisenberg's Mystical Experience?
Did Werner Heisenberg, who was one of the founders of quantum mechanics and who proposed the uncertainty principle, have a little known mystical experience that shaped his views of reality? The question is being brought forward by three Mexican researchers.
Werner Heisenberg - Image credit: Resonance - Journal of Science Education
Nikola Tesla was one of the giants of science of the last century, but he also had a fine grasp of spiritual matters, a fact documented in a recent article on this site, by Velimir Abramovich. That article, first published by Alexander Frolov in his New Energy Technologies magazine, was forwarded to me by a Mexican researcher, Jose Luis Lopez-Bonilla.
Viktor Schauberger is another one of the scientists in a wider sense of the word - he was called the water wizard and proposed a change in technology from explosion to implosion - who obtained their knowledge by linking in to a 'data bank' of a non-physical kind. See Technology Turned Inside-out and Schauberger Q and A - Making the Data Available.
It has long been my contention that if Physics wants to overcome the present state of impasse, it must embrace and investigate the phenomenon of "ultimate cause", the spiritual realities on which the manifest physical universe depends for its existence. Actually this site is turning out to be a place where that interface between science and spirituality comes into focus, at least in some of the articles - you will see them listed at the end of this one.
The piece that follows here has also been sent in by Jose Luis Lopez-Bonilla, who together with his co-authors is asking an interesting question about Heisenberg's life. Perhaps one of you readers can help them along with some pertinent information...
- - -
SCIENCE and MYSTICISM
Maya and the Scientists
Could science be assumed to be like a kind of religion, recognizing that to research and decode the mechanisms of the material world would help to establish the purposes and ways of the Will pervading atoms, bodies and galaxies? Here you shall find what some men devoted to science have done and still doing.
Maya denotes the transient - and in consequence unreal - character of the phenomenic world. As Sri Aurobindo expresses:
"... then I saw the intense movement in Bombay like performed on a film, everything unreal!"
or in the Max Planck's words (Nobel Prize in Physics):
"We must assume that behind the world of phenomena exists a Superior Mind. This Mind is the Creator of the Universe",
in accordance with Luis Pasteur:
"In those supreme moments - in the deep of our soul - we have the feeling that the world should be more than a mere combination of facts due to a mechanical equilibrium".
From the above quotes it seems that the science will take a great step ahead when scientists experience the underlying reality of the researched world. This experience was lived by Werner Karl Heisenberg (Physics Nobel Awarded); in fact, Paul Brunton wrote that:
"Without learning, studying or practising yoga Heisenberg, a famous nuclear physicist and formulator of the Law of Indeterminacy, unwittingly entered a state that is a high goal for yogis, Nirvikalpa Samadhi. This happened at times at the end of the deepest abstract thinking about his subject. Thoughts themselves ceased to be active. He found himself in the Stillness of the Void. He knew then, and knows today, his spiritual being".
In 1929 Heisenberg visited India to give some conferences about quantum mechanics. Probably that magic and mysterious country left a deep impression on the soul of this german scientist, which some time later guided him to experience samadhi. Heisenberg died in 1976 in his house in Munich, victim of cancer f the kidney and bladder. Paul Brunton informed that
"When he was dying, Heisenberg said to von Weizsäcker, 'It is is very easy, I did not know this before'. At another moment he said, 'I see now that Physics is of not importance, that the world is an illusion'. He passed away in peace".
To understand the illusory nature of the physical world represented for Heisenberg the most decisive fact - even more important than the Nobel award - during his entire distinguished scientific career. It would be desirable that many more men and women dedicated to science could experience the sublime samadhi, learning in this way that the spiritual is of basic importance when studying the Universe.
W. Heisenberg and the Kevala Samadhi
The scientist Werner Heisenberg was one of the founders of quantum Physics, that is, of the study of dynamical laws that govern the microcosmos. This great discovery represented a strong shock for Heisenberg with respect to the 'reality' of the physical world. Heisenberg had to accept that things are up to us measuring them, in other words, it is necessary that an observer interacts with a system in order for the system to acquire reality.
What is stated above is totally compatible with the teachings of Emptyness (in Buddhism) and Maya (in Hinduism), in which the world of phenomena lacks its own integrity because it is just a mental construction; so, if there is no mind then there is no world. Albert Einstein disagreed with this interpretation. He always insisted on the idea that Nature has its own reality, independent of any observer. In 1939 Rabindranath Tagore talked to Einstein in New York and tried to explain to him that the world depends on the human factor, that the beauty and the truth are not independent of the human being; but Einstein never changed his concept about the reality of the Universe.
We would like to mention Heisenberg's second shock:
In the Yoga International magazine (Vol. 3, No. 6, 1994) it was published that Prof. Heisenberg had a spontaneous experience of kevala samadhi, which was also confimed by Paul Brunton and Paul Cash. It is not surprising that Prof. C.F. von Weizsäcker (we may remember that this important german scientist had, in the 1950's, a deep inner experience during his visit to Ramanasramam at Tiruvannamalai) and Heisenberg had invited several yogis to Germany, for example, Gopi Krishna, who explained them how to awake the kundalini shakti. In chapter 14, entitled "An experience in the Cosmic Consciousness" from the book "Autobiography of a Yogi", by Yogananda Paramahansa, you can find a beautiful poem in which is described the mystical experience of Samadhi.
The essential point is that in kevala samadhi the mind is turned off and the physical world disappears with its conceptions of space and time, the universe is perceived as an illusion without intrinsic reality, the ego is dissolved revealing the Oneness of Creation and the existence of the Cosmic Mind. When somebody experiences samadhi even only once, a deep internal transformation results that annihilates all patterns of "reality" of the world. Thus, it is not difficult to imagine the impact that the great experience of kevala samadhi had on Heisenberg. Surely this experience reinforced his concept of 'reality' that he introduced in the 1920's as the fundament of quantum Physics.
Samadhi is a state which anyone describes in very personal terms, so we are now trying to find some writings in which Heisenberg himself narrated his own mystical experience. This would be very basic for the establishing a close connection between science and spirituality.
Carina Aguilar-Chávez, Blanca E. Carvajal-Gámez, José L. López-Bonilla,
National Polytechnic Institute, Mexico city
Other e-mail: email@example.com
- - -
See also other articles that touch on the interface between science and spirituality:
Life & the Universe After the Copenhagen Interpretation
But I too, go beyond ordinary physics to the meaning of life and the universe. I reject the notion that science, as knowledge of nature, is divorced from life and the meaning of life. I see the universe developing and evolving, with every organism participating, constantly creating and recreating itself anew. It is a truly creative universe in that the future is not preordained, but spontaneously and freely made by every single being, from elementary particles to galaxies, from microbes to the giant redwood trees, all mutually entangled in a universal wave function that never collapses, but like a constantly changing cosmic consciousness, maintains and informs the universal whole.